The Orkustra

The Orkustra – I had recently arrived in San Francisco when, in the fall of 1965, I conceived of assembling what I described then as “the first electrified symphony orchestra.” My 18th birthday had just passed and I possessed only modest abilities as a musician, but, being prone to such crazy notions, the concept seemed perfectly reasonable-this was the Haight-Ashbury of the mid-sixties, after all! A few months later a stable musical ensemble somewhat resembling my original conception had come into existence.

What I had imagined would be an “orchestra” of a dozen-or-so musicians proved in practice to be unmanageable. Instead, a coalition of five instrumentalists from various musical traditions””rock, classical, jazz, folk and blues””emerged as the core group. For what was essentially a reconceived rock band, the instrumentation was extremely unusual, comprising some combination of violin, oboe, standup bass, guitar, bouzouki, flute, organ, drums and percussion. All of the melodic instruments were modified for electric amplification.

The Orkustra’s brief day in the sun did not allow an opportunity to record a formal album. However, some recordings of the band’s practice sessions and live performances were made. These precious few artifacts have been carefully restored and compiled by Mexican Summer into a comprehensive double LP album.

Bobby BeauSoleil
Summer 2009

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